Apes on FXGuide

This video from FXGuide is the best one I’ve seen so far in terms of going into a bit of detail around the work we did on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and the different challenges faced by different disciplines at Weta, which is nice:

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Apes is Out

Let me know what you thought!

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Planet of the Apes World First Look


Empire Magazine has a first reaction to some footage that was recently screened from DotPotA, as well as a few images from the film. I’m pretty excited about how this movie is shaping up.

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Reorganized Tools, New Tools

I’ve updated the Tools page to organize the scripts into two different categories, animation and rigging. I wanted to start adding some more simple rigging utilities, the first two new ones are Parent Shape and Reset Bind. ml_parentShape reparents shape  nodes to other transforms, or unparents shapes from their transforms, and ml_resetBind resets skinCluster deformations after moving some joints around. They’re both pretty basic and straightforward, (and I’m sure they’ve been written before) but I figured I’d share them because I get a lot of use out of them in any case.

I’ve also added one new animation tool, ml_transferKeytimes. Again, a pretty basic utility, just copies the keytimes (not the keys) from any one node to a group of others. A use case for this is if you’ve set key poses on a root control, and you want a group of other controls to have all their keys set on the same frames as that one control, this can transfer keytimes while preserving animation (insofar as that’s possible).

Grab them from the Tools page!

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Posted in Python, Tools | 5 Comments


puppeteerGuy_160So Dummy was built with a python tool-set which I’m calling Puppeteer. I’ve created a page to be a central place for this project as it continues to grow and evolve, and I plan on writing some more posts in the future to talk a bit more about some of the ideas behind it. I’ve also taken the plunge and created a facebook page as a way to promote this system and any future rigs, I’m not really sure what to expect from that as I’m not the most social media savvy individual. But if it gets enough attention it may become a bit of a hub for information about Puppeteer developments.

The final part of this equation is that I’m testing the waters to see what sort of interest people may have in Puppeteer as a rigging service, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like more information about that.

Thanks for reading!

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Making of Smaug Featurette

I believe this is what was shown for the VES awards:

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Here’s Dummy

dummyMugShotPortrait_180So as I’ve mentioned before, my side project for the past couple years has been developing a rigging system, and Dummy is the poor sap I’ve been testing it on. I’m afraid some people might be a bit disappointed to find out he’s a pretty boring-looking, averagely-proportioned character with no facial rig. But my goal for this guy was to be a test pilot, and a first step in producing puppets with my toolset. I just wanted to create a robust, stripped down biped, focussing at first on the control rig rather than things like deformations.

How To Use Him

Head over to the new Maya Rigs page, or download him at the end of this post. I’m hoping the setup should be pretty straightforward, the one thing which may be different from other rigs you’ve used is where to find the settings. There’s no control curves for them, so it might not be obvious how to change things like FK/IK. However, if you just expand the top node in the outliner, directly underneath it you’ll see a group for every part of the character (grp_Root, grp_Head, grp_Spine, etc.). These groups have attributes to control the settings which affect that element of the puppet.

What’s So Special

Dummy is a pretty generic character and rig, there’s probably not a lot of surprises for someone who has much industry experience with biped rigs, but even so there’s a couple features which are the tiniest bit “experimental” to me. I’d be interested in getting feedback on these aspects of the puppet in particular:

  • Auto Pole Vector – The default mode of the pole vectors are “Auto,” which keeps them hopefully in a stable and default position when moving a hand or foot. This isn’t a new concept, but I’m hoping it’s a more useful and stable implementation than some I’ve seen.
  • Spine Extend/Collapse – In addition to stretching, the spine will straighten out a bit when stretched, and bend when compressed. It’s meant to evoke a bit more of an IK feel, as well as allow for animating stretching and compressing without too much scaling.
  • Soften IK – This also isn’t a new concept, but generally I see it used in conjunction with scaling limbs. In this case I didn’t want the limbs to be scaleable, but I still wanted this effect.

I may go into these features a bit more in future posts, including how they’re set up, if people are interested. The next post though will be about Puppeteer, the system behind the rig. Now without further ado:

Version: 7
3.0 MiB


Forgot to add that there’s also a basic support script for FK/IK switching and a few selection tools (also requires ml_utilities):

ML Puppet
ML Puppet
Version: 3
12.2 KiB
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Kitty Galore Breakdown

This is old news by now, but I just ran across this breakdown of Kitty Galore on Tippett’s Vimeo channel (bonus link: Tippett has a Vimeo channel). I was rigging lead for Kitty:

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Pre-Announcement Announcement

I got a little plug from my old teacher Andrew Gordon over at Spline Doctors, so I figured now is as good a time as any to talk a bit about what I’ve been up to behind the curtain over here.

The last couple years my side project has been developing a Maya rigging system, with the goal of making something modular, flexible and expandable which I could use to build a variety of polished, stable rigs relatively quickly (should the need arise). I’ve recently gotten to the point where I’m happy enough with my primary biped test puppet to share it with the fine people of The Internet. I’ve been wanting to make another free rig for a while now, this will hopefully satisfy that desire, as well as showcase this system and be a way to get feedback from the community in order to improve it.

Beyond that, my plan for 2014 is to write some posts about the specific philosophies and setups used in this first rig, finalize and release a backlog of animation and rigging tools, and then build some puppets!

So stay tuned for a proper announcement in the next week or two, and I guess I’ve actually got to get my act together now!

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Posted in News, Norman, Puppeteer, Rigging | 2 Comments

Gibby Loves Rocks

Tom Gibbons is one of my old supervisors from Tippett, and he put together a reel highlighting the often frustrating side of being an animator in this industry, which isn’t fairly represented in most promotional materials:

Rocks demo1.5 from tom gibbons on Vimeo.

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